Category Archives: Jonah

1 Chronicles 18; James 5; Jonah 2; Luke 7

10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast.

James 5:10-11a ESV

When we get lost in the suffering instead of God’s promise we show a lack of patience and an increase of selfishness. If we want our faith to truly go the distance, it must transform every square inch of our souls.

29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

Luke 7:29,30 ESV

The message of the gospel can easily stop not far below the surface of our intellect. We might grab on to the hope of forgiveness, the promise of eternal life, or the feel good story of God’s love for us. All of those require only a perfunctory understanding of sin, Jesus, and redemption.

38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

Luke 7:38 ESV

But, when you allow yourself to be swallowed up by the incredible depth of the gospel message, you discover the true beauty of it. Christ’s imputed righteousness, unconditional forgiveness and justification, mercy beyond logic, a God who knows us and chose to sacrifice on our behalf anyway. When that washes over you, you cannot help but respond.

So many people through history have made the mistake of being satisfied with a surface understanding of God’s message. Jonah, pharisees, me.

This week I realized that I have become quite consistent in my daily quiet time. Each morning I listen to numerous chapters in my bible app. I go through one or two lessons in my current devotional book, and even spend other times each day listening to a sermon, reading an article, or studying God’s Word with other family members. And yet, how often does it really sink in?

This may seem unrelated, but bear with me a moment . . . A couple years ago I realized that my marriage lacked a little of the zip that it had once had. I suppose that was understandable after 24 plus years, but I felt a bit of envy when I heard couples in their fourth or fifth decade talking about how they were “more in love now than ever.” I couldn’t really relate. I mean, I love my husband, have loved him for many years. But, could I say I love him more now than before? I wasn’t so sure.

I started reading some marriage books and looking for ways to express my love and try to nurture it so it would bloom a bit more fully. I came across an interesting challenge to kiss your spouse for 15 seconds everyday. After trying it for a while (since I’m such a box-checking kind of gal), I still wasn’t quite getting it, although it did seem like I was on the right path.

Then I changed my goal. Not just a time span, but an experience. I was looking to get lost in that kiss everyday. Game changer! It didn’t happen overnight, but that habit of trying to get lost in my husband’s arms and lips each day (well, most days . . .) brought us closer together and re-lit something that had gotten a little dimmer over the years. Now, at 27 plus years I can definitely say I am more in love with him now than ever before and each year just keeps getting better.

Okay, back to my relationship with God. I realized this week that my relationship with God was getting a little routine. I love Him, of course. Can never deny all that He has done for me, but does it really get to my heart? If I’m honest, most days, no. My quiet time has become just that. Reading, praying through lists, filling out devotionals, box-checking.

This week, I renewed my effort to “get lost” (which might look different for each of us) in worship and God’s Word each day, and God has showed up in a big way. I don’t wrap up my time with Him until I have seen a truth hit close to home, until I have that moment of God’s word pricking my conscience or sparking my response or rousing my heart in worship.

Those who pay regard to vain idols
    forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
    will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
    Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

Jonah 2:8,9 ESV

Even in this, we can sometimes not fully get it. Jonah clearly had a moment with God while in the belly of the fish. He poured his heart out and confessed, praised, threw himself on God’s mercy, cried out, prayed, gave thanks, and recognized God as his only hope. God heard his heart, and dumped him back on the beach for a second chance. But the next chapters will show that his heart still lacked God’s vision for Ninevah.

Continually pressing into Him needs to be a lifelong endeavor of every Christian.

Lord God, I don’t want to be a Christian out of habit, I want to follow you passionately all of my days. I want an eye so focused on the eternal hope, that the suffering I experience in this world is irrelevant. Everyday relight my fire for You that I may never stop growing and never stop visibly living for You. In Jesus Name ~Amen

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Jonah 1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4

“But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord.  He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish.  But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart.” Jonah 1:3&4 NLT

Even though I find it a little funny that Jonah tried to get away from the Lord.  I think about times in my own life when I have done the same.  I am thankful for a Father who presses in and doesn’t leave me in my wondering.  He gently brings me back to him.  He hears my cries for help. And answers me.

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.  He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me.  I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!  You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea.  The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild stormy waves.  Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.  Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me.  Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.  I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.  I was imprisoned by the earth, whose gates lock shot forever.  But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord.  And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple…For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” Jonah 2:1-9 NLT

I can relate to Jonah more than I’d like to admit.  He not only let fear get the best of him and he fled.  But, he was letting his feelings of anger and bitterness cause him to disobey.  He had to give up his control of the situation. And let God handle it.  What situations am I trying to control?

“The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” Then Jonah went to the east of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen in the city.”  Jonah 4:4 NLT

God let Jonah wrestle through his feelings.  He was patient and merciful. He asked him a question, instead of trying to tell him how to feel.

Thank you Father for your patience towards me.  For working through the process even when it is hard.  For understanding my pain, but not wanting me to stay there.  Give me a love for others that only comes from you. Amen.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.  Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11&12 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

 

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Jonah; Matthew 11

Matthew 11 is one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture.

2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” (Matthew 11:2-6 [NASB]

John the Baptist was sitting in prison for doing what was morally right. He called out sin and was placed in jail for it and soon would be executed. In his mind it wasn’t turning out the way he expected. He didn’t see himself rotting away in some jail, but serving God. What a huge difference between the crowds that came to see him preach and now sitting in jail his life wasting away.

So he sends his men to Jesus to see if he is the real Messiah or whether they should wait for another. Jesus replies to their questions by reporting what he is doing. And then he shares with the crowd what an awesome person John the Baptist was. He didn’t scold him or deride him. Jesus praises his cousin John.

Later in the chapter he talks about the the Kingdom of God and he puts it this way (paraphrased), The Kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing and forceful men and woman take hold of it. In other words the Kingdom of God is not for sissies. It is moving forward to strong people take hold of it and help move it forward. People like John the Baptist.

Soon John would lose his head. Although the church had not been born yet, John epitomizes this watchword of the church. The Church advances on the blood of Her martyrs.

I guess the question this morning to you is, Are you ready for the challenge. Will you join the men and women through the ages who have been forceful enough and even brave enough to give their lives in seeing the advancement of God’s Kingdom.

 

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1 Chronicles 17; James 4; Jonah 1; Luke 6

Spending time with God, talking to Him, listening, and engaging with His word is something I treasure and enjoy every day.  The fact that God spends time with me gives me incredible encouragement to keep spending time with Him.

For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him; therefore your servant has found it possible to pray before you.                          1 Chronicles 17:25   NRSV

When I learned very early that God was not a vending machine where I inserted my time and effort and earned the right for a product to come sliding down into my hands, I knew that my life would never be the same. Love had entered the picture, and I accepted God’s love for first time, not in faith as in salvation, but in trust and hope that He was my Father.

 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. – James 4:3   NRSV

Sometimes I am in control and feel safe in His arms and other times I am caught up in my own world and forget to leave my matters in the palm of His hand.  Sometimes I simply forget that He is watching me, caring over me and loving me.  When I do mess up, He never leaves me.  There are times I have felt His arms around me even though I have suffered some extreme loss.

But the Lord provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. – Jonah 1:17   NRSV

People wonder why my hands are outstretched when I pray.  It is a sign of surrender, for sure, but for me it is more about inviting God into my life to do what He does best – change me, make me whole, restore my life because I am Yours.

 After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. – Luke 6:10   NRSV

Father, You see my hand stretched out to You. Sometimes I can say words, sometimes I can only breathe deep breaths and sometimes when You love me so much, I can only cry.  I can pray because You have blessed me with promises and every one of them You have kept.  I can pray because You have shown me that you are more than God, You have come to me as my Father.  I can pray because in my weakest moments in life, Your arms are around me.  I can pray because I love being with You. I love You and thank You that You are always You – each and every day. Amen.

evanlaar

 

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1Chron.17; James 4; Jonah 1; Luke 6

Who teaches the Teacher??

Ask any parent… what is their primary goal as a father/mother? If you were to ask my Dad, he would have responded “to have you live on your own!” I can almost hear the laughs starting, but, there is wisdom in those words. Yes… I will admit… by the time I reached the age of 15, my Dad and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye… but did it mean that I was a problem child? Actually no… I had reached the age that I didn’t need to be ‘taught’ any longer… or so I thought. Regardless of what I wanted or thought I needed, my Dad was committed to preparing me to survive in the world after I left. Through his words and his actions, he was teaching me… preparing me to understand how to live… how to conduct myself in various situations. Like it or not, as parents, we’re tasked with the responsibility preparing our children to leave us! We impart our knowledge, our passions, our experiences on our children so that they can survive and know how to live. Quite a task… but as teachers… who teaches the teacher?? Who do we turn to as our model to aspire to? Is the right way to seek others as the guide? If we choose to focus on using others as models, we run the risk of comparing ourselves to others… not a healthy place to be. As Andy Stanley put it in his recent sermon message “The Comparison Trap”, there’s no win in comparison! Comparison spawns an insatiable desire to be better than someone else… perhaps a safer, more meaning option would be to look towards the Teacher of all teachers… Jesus!

The Bible is filled with examples of how Jesus assumed the role of teacher… and we can see this in Luke 6, where insightful points are made that underscore what it means to be a Christian as Jesus saves those who follow Him… He teaches us with the goal of us becoming more like Him.

Jesus uses a parable “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?” “A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”

If any of you have seen my daughter’s photographic work, I know you would agree that she has an incredible gift. Recently, my daughter gave me a compilation photo that has a photo of me in different roles… the one photo that meant the most to her was that of ‘Role Model’ which touched me deeply. I always wanted to be diligent enough to positively affect my girls’ lives, but as parents we don’t often see the fruit of our efforts for many years. Often, we grow impatient and want/(need) to see results NOW… but as any teacher will attest to… often times the lesson isn’t learned on our time. But there is no denying that I have rubbed off on my daughters and have created a model they are using to gauge young men who express interest in them. Clearly, teaching, through modeling, to our children has tremendous consequences… good OR bad!!

God’s word tells us: train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Whatever direction we tend to be trained into, we have a tendency to keep going in that direction. However, the Teacher of teachers, Jesus, seeks to teach us an even deeper truth… that we only need follow Him and His instruction, as Teacher, and we can become more like the Teacher who instructs us. Why? Because God loves to communicate with His children… He enjoyed spending time with Adam and Eve in the garden, and He loves when His children call on Him or respond when He calls on them (Jonah 1).

I love the warning Jesus offers us in Luke 6:47-49… Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when the flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard, and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house upon ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Heavenly Father… just as David modeled reaching out to You in 1 Chronicles 17, help to soften our hearts so that we seek You in all things… always… that when nothing seems possible, that we pray so we can experience the possibility and power of Your grace. As Your children, we are called to live out of grace and not our achievements. When we seek ourselves, our achievements, instead of You as our teacher and guide, whatever we do will never feel like enough. However, in prayer and turning towards You, we hope to discover the infinite possibilities of living out of grace… Amen!

Greg Stefanelli (gstefanelli)

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